Amid a regime crackdown on labor activists, As’ad Behnam Ebrahimzadeh (pictured) has been given a six-year prison sentenced after a 10-minute trial.
Ebrahimzadeh was also ordered to copy three books by hand for engaging in peaceful activities and attending protests by sugar mill workers in southwestern Iran.
He told the Center for Human Rights in Iran that he was not allowed time to prepare a defense and that he was denied access to an attorney “but the judge said I don’t need a lawyer”.
The activist was arrested by agents of the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization in December and held for 35 days in Evin Prison, mainly in solitary confinement. He was condemned by a Revolutionary Court to one year for “propaganda against the state” and five years for “membership in illegal organizations”. He will serve five years, subject to appeal.
Ebrahimzadeh’s “crimes” were criticism on social media of government relief efforts after an earthquake in western Iran, and appearances at demonstrations by Haft Tappeh sugar mill workers over unpaid wages.
He was imprisoned from 2010 to 2017 for trade union activities, advocacy of children’s rights, and calls for the release of political prisoners.
Independent unions are not allowed to operate in Iran, with strikers often losing their jobs and risking detention.
The regime has stepped up imprisonment of labor leaders who attempt to organize workers and bargain collectively. are prosecuted under national security charges and sentenced to long prison sentences.
On January 20, Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Qolian were seized for their attandance at a protest by the Haft Tappeh sugar mill worker, in front of the governor’s office in Khuzestan Province in southwest Iran.
They are being held, without access to lawyers, in an Intelligence Ministry detention center and say they have been abused and forced to “confess”.
Amnesty International has called for their release and expressed “grave concern” over their treatment.